Southern University baseball coach Roger Cador has been tabbed by Major League Baseball to examine how to pump millions of African-American dollars into a professional sports league that is attempting to play catch up with the NBA and NFL in embracing black culture.
You’ve been told that Commissioner Bud Selig wants to flood the game with black faces because he truly wants to see black faces on the field.
It must be the motive behind creating an 18-person task force to study how to increase diversity in the game, right?
The game doesn’t lack diversity. While whites still account for a large percentage of rosters, Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans create a vibrant melting pot marriage. What the game lacks is the valuable black dollar.
Branch Rickey understood it. That is why he pursued Jackie Robinson. In the film “42,” Rickey’s character, portrayed by Harrison Ford, told Robinson and everyone who would listen, that was one of his goals.
Robinson’s presence in the minors resulted in a boon in interest from those who considered him a hero, and those who wanted him hung from a tree. It was estimated that more than one million flocked to games involving Robinson in 1946, a rarity by even today’s standards of Minor League Baseball attendance.
Hall of Fame broadcaster Red Barber said in Ken Burns’ documentary “Baseball” that Rickey’s willingness to integrate baseball was in part “born out of astute business sense.”
When some Brooklyn Dodgers players rebuffed the idea of playing on the same team with a black man, manager Leo Durocher allegedly stated to the racist white men: “I say he (Robinson) can make us all rich.”
Economic studies have shown that black buying power is valued at $1.1 trillion. If African-Americans were a single country, it would be the 16th largest nation in the world, according to The State of the African-American Consumer Report.
The report also indicated that blacks spend $29.3 billion on clothing, $3.1 billion on entertainment and $8.8 billion on media, says a 2010 Target Market News report.
It is why the league began such initiatives as Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) and made historically black college baseball teams part of its Urban Invitational showcase each February.
There have been plans of building several baseball academies similar to those found in Latin America to lure black youths.
The black athlete has done wonders for major college football and basketball to the point where programs compete in multimillion-dollar bowl games and tournament broadcasting rights are sold for $10 billion.
That is the real reason MLB continues to push the sagging African-American participation numbers (which currently stands at 8.5 percent). It is not about herding more blacks in the game to provide some type of racial harmony in the baseball ecosystem.
An economic boost, power and popularity are what baseball wants. Only six percent of black sports fans had an interest in the sport as opposed to 45 percent who considered pro football as a worthy investment, a Harris Poll Interactive survey said.
Before Selig retires, he wants to be the next Rickey. He’s using Cador to help cement his legacy as the man who re-broke baseball’s color barrier and enriched the sport just as Robinson 66 years ago. This is Selig’s great experiment.
The two most valuable resources in all of sports are money and the elite black athlete. Baseball is desperate for both.